Customer Relationship Management, or CRM, is an absolute must when it comes to businesses. A good custom CRM will help you, as a business, usher your customer through the buying journey and sales process smoothly and successfully. If your customers have a more enjoyable experience and interaction with your brand, the higher your conversions, sales and customer return rate will be.

To help better monitor customer engagement and interactions, it is important for any business to have a CRM.

What is a CRM?

A CRM, or customer relationship management software, is a software system used to better monitor and evaluate customer relations. This is used to help increase sales, improve your sales process and assess productivity for both marketing and general practices.

What Should a CRM Include?

1. Contact and Customer Interactions

Since a CRM software is meant to help a business owner keep track of and manage their customers, projects and employees, there is no surprise that contact and interaction management would be a crucial feature in a CRM.

Your CRM software should be able to store all of your contact and customer info in one place, in an organized CRM system. Specifically, the CRM software should store all names, addresses and other crucial pieces of identifiable information. Your CRM functionality should also include social media accounts and previous conversations and customer interactions, all in one searchable, easy to sort through place.

2. Integration

Another key factor of a standard CRM software is integration with all social media, email and other communication platforms. When it comes to email, it is necessary that your CRM software is able to integrate with all email services, especially if you plan on having your sales team access the software, or contacting people through the software who aren’t equipped with the same email platform as you are.

Ideally, your CRM system should be able to integrate any platform you use for online conversations for optimal organization. Try to keep in mind what platforms your business tends to use most often, but choose a CRM that offers more than what you need in case of expansion.

3. Scalability and Flexibility

One of the main goals of a business is to grow, so why would you choose a customer relationship management program that won’t be able to grow with you? Although your list of CRM features and needs may be small when you are first starting out your business, try and search for a CRM software that offers CRM features necessary for larger businesses as well.

Some key CRM features to look out for may be tighter security, a larger storage CRM system and workflow automation CRM features. Just try and keep flexibility in mind, you do not want to be stuck to a CRM software that is holding your business back from expanding when the purpose of a CRM software is to help a business grow.

4. Document, Quote and Proposal Management

Just as it is standard for a CRM software to include contact and interaction management, it is expected that every CRM software has document, quote and proposal management as well. With any business there are many documents that will need to be shared amongst your sales team, customers and manufacturers, and your CRM software should allow you to organize all of those documents.

This is especially necessary if you have a large team that shares information over various platforms, with good document management, you can have a centralized location for all important information. If many of your documents are quotes and proposals, it may be best that you seek out a CRM system that has a separate feature for quote/proposal management to keep yourself organized.

5. Mobile Support

Nowadays, most people spend so many hours of their day on their phones, which means that the best way to contact anyone is through a mobile CRM platform. This should be one of the key features that’s non-negotiable.

Although most people would rather use their CRM software on their computers where they can store and share large documents, the best way to ensure your messages get out quickly is to find a CRM system with mobile integration.

This is necessary not only for alerting employees of changes, but also to contact manufacturers and customers with the least amount of delay. If you are searching for a mobile-integrated CRM software, it is crucial that you keep in mind all mobile devices including Apple iOS, Samsung and Android products.

6. Pipeline Management Tracker

Every business has some form of sales funnel, usually beginning with a broad awareness of a contact, lead or product idea and ending with the sale. Any standard CRM software should have a sales pipeline management as one of its key features. It would allow you to track your progress along the sales funnel.

This is especially important if you have many different products/leads which will be in their own individual stages in the sales funnels or if you have many stages in your sales funnel. A sales pipeline management tracker will just ensure everyone who has access to the software is aware of all of the current prospects and motivated to get them to the final stage.

7. Analytics

Although some people may consider analytics to be an unnecessary feature, every single business would benefit from more in depth analytics. There are many different reports that are available to you through a CRM system and what data will help you most will really depend on your business type/style.

Some data that CRM analytics software offers may include customer geography, sales figures, and employee statistics, such as sales performance. Regardless of which data will help your specific business, your CRM software should be able to organize all of the complex analytics and consolidate the information in a way that will help you troubleshoot problems and grow your company.

8. Forecasting

Although forecasting is not an entirely necessary feature in a standard CRM software, many businesses will find it beneficial. Forecasting should be able to help consolidate your current and past analytics and use the data to generate future predictions.

Although forecasting is not entirely accurate, it should help you get a prediction of how your business should grow assuming you continue as you have in the past/present, which should help you figure out if something needs to change to promote growth in your company.

9. Workflow Automation

As mentioned above, any standard CRM software should be flexible and scalable, and when many businesses attempt to expand they look for a way to introduce workflow automation. This should allow you to save money by having the program complete repetitive tasks, rather than paying an employee to do the same job.

An example of a task that could instead be given to the CRM software to perform, is sending out reminder emails after certain stages in the sales funnel are completed.

Benefits of Using a CRM System

If you are on the fence as to whether or not your business needs to use a CRM, consider all the benefits that come with using one:

Speed Up Data Collection

Rather than having to rely on call, paper or email surveys, which can take a while to get back, you can access accurate data immediately as it comes in. That means no more having to take notes or sift through data.

Everything is immediately in your database with real time data as more customer information comes in. This will also save you money on mailing out surveys and will be far less intrusive than making calls to your customers after every purchase or store experience.

Easily Access Data

In addition to making it easy to collect customer data, you can also more easily access your customer information. You can see real time results in your CRM system as customer information is updated, keeping you abreast of everything as soon as it hits the servers.

Some CRMs also allow you to access the customer data on a wide variety of devices, allowing more people in the company to access it. That means in meetings, everyone can be seeing the same data numbers at the same time without issue.

Boost Your Opportunities

One of the best things about a CRM is the fact that it allows you to boost your opportunities and marketing campaigns through analyzing information and finding leads you should follow. You can see what is and is not currently working for your company and change things where necessary.

That means no wasting time on failing ideas any further. Instead you can focus on where you are being successful and seeing how you can incorporate more of that into your business and customer experience.

Better Predict Sales Effectiveness

The best way to predict future success is by monitoring past and current sales. With a CRM, you can see in real time where your sales are succeeding and where they are falling short. Having this information can help you to both see what is not working, and make you pay more attention to what is.

This can help you and your sales reps to not only predict how your sales will go in the future, but let you know when this plan is no longer viable and needs to be changed to something different.

Get A More Accurate Customer Profile

Customer profiles are crucial in understanding who your customers are and what they want. While basic profiles can help you to get an idea of who you are marketing to, more in- depth profiles can help you build a marketing plan that is built with that person’s interests in mind. These profiles include demographic information, interactions with your support team, transaction history, and more.

All of this information is available in real time, with a goal towards improving the experience of every customer. This can work for both in store purchases, online shopping, and even how they interact with your company’s social profiles.

Monitor and Control Social Media

Social media is far more than just posting pictures and statuses. It is an invaluable way to connect with potential customers and make sure you appear more as people, rather than just a company.

A CRM can help you to see both what your most successful posts are, but also see when people are trying to contact you. It can also organize brand mentions, to better let you see what people have to say about your company on social media.

Make Smarter Marketing Plans

It is important to not only make changes based on data to your sales, but to your marketing as well. Marketing is hugely responsible for getting people to check out your site or go to your store. By using real time customer data and accurate customer profiles, you can better figure out who you should be marketing to and how to best do it.

From the type of ads you should be running, to the best sites you should be posting to, it all matters. For example, you can use the profiles to better predict which sites and shows your customers will be visiting and watching. That greatly increases your chances of getting seen by your customer base, as well as getting some potential new customers.

Align Sales and Marketing Teams

While sales and marketing areas are typically two separate units, they rely on much of the same customer data to be successful. This includes customer insight, contact information, and deals offered. By using the right CRM solutions, these two factions can better work together and make sure everyone is on the same page. This will make things far more efficient and guarantee everyone is working with the same information and the same end goal.


Don’t be stuck guessing whether or not your customers are happy. With the right CRM solutions integrated into your business processes, you can get valuable information to help guide marketing and make important decisions for your business. This information can be the difference between success and failure, so do not leave it to chance.